Whatever Rangers may lack – and that isn’t the shortest list – they do not want for perseverance.
For the second time at home this season, Mark Warburton’s men found a winner that wastefully had eluded them until it seemed they did not have time to deliver it.
Dundee camped in and, increasingly, cramped Rangers’ style. Until, that is, with three minutes of added time played, a twisting Harry Forrester made good as an impact sub by contorting his body to produce a back header from a left-wing cross by Joe Dodoo that sneaked in at the far post.
The relief within Ibrox was palpable. And that was just in the home technical area, with Warburton avoiding inquests that would have been long and weary in conjuring up only a sixth win from a troubled 13-game Premiership campaign.
The Englishman had raised the temperature in an icy cold ground, and the hackles of the Rangers faithful within it, by daring to withdraw his most creative force, Josh Windass, early in the second period.
Frustrations had threatened to boil over as Rangers, who had a real zip early on, lost their impetus in the second period. Forrester did more, then, than save the day for his team. He saved his manager a whole heap of pain as an excruciating dollop was lumped on a Dens Park side that were condemned to bottom spot with the last-minute loss of a goal they have grafted so willingly to prevent.
Forrester gave a rueful look when told of his manager’s description of him as a “great sub” but the 25-year-old was fully aware of the importance of his clincher inside a stadium in which a collective grumble had started to become a piercing growl as the 90 minutes rolled past.
“The crowd help us so much,” he said. “Sometimes they expect us to do better than we’re doing. We sense that but as professionals at Rangers we expect to win. If we don’t do our job we know we’re going to be told about it.”
Forrester regularly does an important job from the bench, with Warburton stating that his recent levels at training didn’t allow for a greater role.
Forrester was diplomatic on that front. “Every player wants to play as many minutes as possible,” he said, “At the moment I’m coming off the bench and, as a squad player, you know you’ve sometimes got to do that.
“We have 23 players at the moment so if I’m asked to come off the bench I’ll just try and do the job I’m asked to do. The boys have been playing well of late. We’ve maybe not got the results but the performances have been there.
“It’s just up to me as a professional to keep it going every day and try and get myself back in the team. But when I go on I just try and get the pace of the game as quickly as possible.
“It’s better when we’re pushing for a goal and that’s how I made the impact here. It’s not something I’ve talked to the manager about but I’ve known him since I was a young lad so he knows me as a person. I just want to get better as a player.”
Rangers must improve in turning dominance into decisive moments if they are to keep pace with Aberdeen in the pursuit of second.
With Windass pulling the strings, and Joe Garner lively, they had a raft of opportunities in the opening period to undo the containment strategy of Paul Hartley’s side.
A couple of whipped-in Tom Hateley free-kicks which Wes Foderingham saved, and a Marcus Haber header blocked in the goalmouth could be cited as moments that Dundee provided serious threat but their manager’s claim that their efforts deserved a point was stretching it.
The fact that his team went into yesterday’s game on the back of consecutive wins for the first time in the league this season meant that Hartley could maintain he was unperturbed about his team’s slide down to last place.
“We’re back bottom but we’re not too worried about that,” he said.
“We’ve shown over the past month that we’re a different team now. We’ve got some good games coming up that we can get some points from but we just have to keep working like that.”